‘Women Who Dare’ promotes support for Comfort House
Supporters of Comfort House in Milltown packed into Lincoln Hills Christian Church Saturday for the Women Who Dare Brunch, which included a monologue of Ruth Hanley Booe and a silent auction.
The event, first held a year ago, raises money for Comfort House, a sexual assault treatment and child advocacy center.
This year marked the first time the brunch was open to everyone, not just women.
‘We needed a confidential setting where women and children can go and feel safe and can talk about what happened to them,’ Cheryl Hillenburg, event chair, said during her opening remarks about the Comfort House at the start of the brunch.
Hillenburg, Pam Davis and Lola Ratterman opened the RAPE Treatment Center in 2002 and later expanded its services to include child advocacy. The name then became Comfort House. The center serves victims from Harrison, Crawford, Orange, Perry, Spencer and Dubois counties.
The three women no longer serve on the Comfort House’s 10-member board which includes Margie Drake, Karen Shireman-Engleman, Kathy Goldman, Joseph Gross, Jolinda Jones, Dr. Sharon Laufer, Joyce Oglesby, Kristy Reynolds, Jim Reynolds and Denise Wiley. The center also has two staff members, Donna Lloyd Black, executive director, and Teresa Miller, program coordinator.
The center has offered its services, which now includes conducting forensic interviews, to more than 300 persons since its opening in 2002.
Comfort House is one of two free-standing sexual abuse facilities in the state, and it’s the first that offers services on a multi-county level.
‘We have a chance to be ahead of our time,’ Hillenburg said, adding that they could only continue with support of the communities they serve.
The center relies solely on fund-raising and grants to operate. The Women Who Dare Brunch is one of many efforts to raise funds to keep the center open.
Reah Thieneman, who handled ticket sales along with Elaine Bell, estimated at least 200 tickets were sold for the event and the room was set for 250 people.
Thieneman said the total amount raised at the event still had to be calculated.
Seventeen individuals, organizations and businesses also sponsored tables which ranged from $250 to $500 a table. Individual tickets cost $25.
Those who attended not only got to dine on various pastries, muffins and casseroles, but they also got to watch a monologue of Ruth Hanley Booe and bid on many items during a silent auction held before and after the monologue.
Booe was portrayed by Kelly Brengelman, an actress with the Kentucky Chautauqua-Kentucky Humanities Council.
Booe and Rebecca Gooch left their careers as substitute teachers in 1919 to start Rebecca-Ruth Candy. Their Frankfort, Ky., business did well due to their innovative marketing skills and survived the Great Depression.
Booe also continued to prosper after taking over the business completely despite losing a husband and later her factory and home in a fire.
During Booe’s time in the candy business, she perfected her Bourbon Ball and the Mint Kentucky Colonel.
‘This little piece of candy is my life,’ Booe told the audience on Saturday when she talked about her Bourbon Ball.
Brengelman spoke after the monologue about Booe and stayed to answer questions after her performance.
Brengelman said she portrayed Booe a little more dramatic than Booe would have been and added she was the type of person who would invite anyone into her kitchen to stay for supper.
‘She’s such a strong woman,’ Brengelman said, adding that Booe was not much of a businesswoman and forgot to take the day’s deposit to the bank on more than one occasion. Booe would also often leave money in the kitchen cabinet.
Brengelman said despite not being a good businesswoman, Booe was successful because she was a ‘marketing genius.’ Booe and Gooch would stage loud conversations about how wonderful their candy was in theater lobbies and on street corners and drove a stripped-down car all over central Kentucky with Rebecca-Ruth signs on the sides.
‘She’s really a symbol for all Kentucky women,’ she said.
Booe retired in 1964 and died in 1973 at the age of 82. Her son, John Booe, took over the company after her retirement, and his son, Charles, now runs the company, which is still in Frankfort.
Attendees could also bid on items at a silent auction which included photographs, baskets, gift certificates and an autographed Kelvin Sampson basketball. Many businesses donated items as well as many individuals. Limeberry Lumber Co. in Corydon donated the most expensive item, a Weber grill valued at $600.
In addition to Hillenburg, who chaired the event, and Bell and Thieneman, who handled the tickets, Laufer organized the silent auction; Oglesby organized the buffet spread; Bell also created the festive atmosphere; and Gross created the programs, tickets and posters advertising the brunch.